Monday, September 29, 2008

stroke the yarn....

Went to the open day on saturday, YAY!!! Bought some Chi sock yarn from The Natural Dye Studio, which is a merino/bamboo mix. The bamboo apparently gives it anti-fungal properties which is good for socks, so we'll just have to wait and see how it knits up. Also bought some Laceweight "Angel" in the colourway Moonpearl. Firstly I'd like to state that I am NEVER going to knit with cobweb-weight yarn, this is hard enough! I'm knitting a scarf from it called Moon River (I'm willing to send the pdf to any non-ravelry members as it's a free download anyway) and my main problems are that I can't actually see the yarn against the needles, which is giving me brain-ache. Oh but it's worth it because it's so soft and pretty! Angel is made from a Baby Alpaca/Cashmere/Silk blend and has a very slight halo of fluffyness, a gentle sheen and is a pleasure to behold. Yummy yarn!
The day itself was absolutely lovely, the weather was gorgeous and there was tea and scones laid out for us to enjoy, and by the end of the day we'd gathered quite a crowd. I was sat knitting my most recent triangle (I swear I'm going to be knitting these things til the day i die!) and a couple of ladies were sat with their knitting. The lady from TNDS was sat with us crocheting a blanket together, a couple of ladies were spinning (both with wheels and drop spindles!) and everyone was chatting and crafting away like we'd all known each other years! It was great fun and I really do hope another similar event is organised soon.

Christening Shawl Update: I'm just about to cast on the 8th Triangle, which means that excluding the border, I'm almost half way through! I'm mentally doing a jig just thinking about it!
I sewed together four of the triangles just before i blogged last week, and have since photographed it (pictured right). I love the way the flower comes together in the middle, but there is a slight hole where the points meet, so I'll have to work out some way of dealing with that later.

And thats pretty much it... I'm going back to bed now, to nurse my poor laceworker's headache!

Monday, September 22, 2008


This will probably be a really short post today, as I've not been well for the past week and a half. I appear to have come down with some sort of stomach bug, and feel like I've been kicked in the tummy several times by a rather irate mule.

The baby hat I knitted has finally been finished!. My dad made a bobble for it (I think he secretly enjoyed doing it too) and instead of it just being plain white, he put some strands of yellow yarn through it that i had lying around. It looks really pretty, but I've not managed to take photos, on account of spending most of my time curled up in a ball, or in the bathroom! I promise I'll have pictures of it by next week!

When I have managed to knit, I've done more of the triangles for this Christening shawl I'm making. I'm knitting the 5Th at the moment, although I've a horrendous feeling I've counted the rows wrong and it will have to be frogged and started again. It's not so bad, it was only the 30Th row, and there was only as many stitches on the needles anyway. I think to about the tenth row there is barely 15 stitches on the needles, so it's pretty quick to knit in the early stages. By the time I reach the 94Th row, I will have roughly 98 stitches on the needle, so better that I spotted the mistake now rather than later!

The second triangle I knit for this project was a complete disaster and had to be frogged twice before it would knit up right. The first time I got roughly half way through the second repeat of the diamond pattern when my mind just went blank and I couldn't remember what row i was doing, didn't recognise any of the stitches I'd knit, or where i was up to in the pattern! I decided to tink back the stitches I'd just knit, but then lost a stitch off the left needle when trying to undo a PSSO on the right (don't ask!). Plan B was then to frog back until the purl row before the diamond pattern started, but then i couldn't get the stitches on the needle properly and row after row was torn out, until I just kept pulling at that yarn, with wild abandon... Second time wasn't so bad, just a silly mistake like I've just done with the latest triangle, miscounted the rows (I was watching telly again!) and missed two out :(

It's weird that when you frog, the first few rows you rip out are like ripping out your own heart; every stitch screams to you as it disappears into the puddle of yarn on the floor, and even though you'll probably reknit those rows, it'll never be quite the same stitch, or quite the same bit of yarn. But after the first few rows it's like each stitch ripped out releases the pride you placed into it, and that changes into the hope that next time you will do it right, and it WILL work out...

I did have another slight misshap with the shawl though, and I'm sure you can guess what I was doing when it happened! I was sewing together 4 of the triangles (i wanted to see how it came together) and it's not rocket science to do it either - all you do is mattress stitch the little looped edges together. Very quick and simple, ideal for someone like me. WELL. I sewed all four peices together, it looked so pretty, the little flower in the middle and the completely missmatched diamond patterns around the outside. Argh! I spent most of last night watching "Strictly Come Dancing", and picking the thing apart :( I'm in two minds now whether or not to leave the sewing until before i knit the border, but i can't help worrying i might do something wrong which i would discover sooner if i sew each triangle together as i knit it...

In other news, the BFL open day is this weekend and I can't wait! I really hope I'm better by then since i don't think coffee and scones are a happy bedfellow with a tetchy stomach :(

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The (almost) pictureless post!

Reasons to feel bad:
1: Although I finished knitting the little hat that goes with the baby set I was doing, I haven't actually made the pompom for it yet(i got distracted, see below!), so haven't photographed it :(
2: I started a new project from a pattern in the Chevy collection, but for the love of god can i find a single picture of it that i can put here? I can't even find the pattern for sale!

If anyone wants to hunt it down it's pattern 1295, and it contains a pattern for a christening shawl and a cot blanket. I've admired this shawl pattern for a while now, I found it whilst going through some old patterns i was kindly given. It's knit in plain dk yarn, but the yarn-overs and decreases give it a lovely lacey feel, and although I'm actually using pure acryllic it's actually turning out very soft and light too. The shawl itself is knit in 16 triangles (pictured left) with a border knitted seperately, which means there are a very manageable number of stitches on the needles at any one time. I'm really quite proud of myself for even attempting this shawl as a lot of people have commented on how difficult it looks, and I'm half way through my 2nd triangle already! The triangles fit together to make 4 squares, and the petal shape at the bottom forms a little flower in the middle. Can't wait to get this done! Before I get asked, no it's not for me! My best friend's sister is having a baby which is due early march of 2009, so it won't be an impossible task of finishing before then, but i get an awful feeling I'll be swearing at the monotony of the last few triangles!

I'm still searching for a nice summery top to knit out of about 500g of Sirdar Denim Tweed DK that I have under my bed. I bought this as a discontinued pack at an online discount yarn shop that I really like, with the intention of making long fingerless gloves/arm warmers out of them, and then maybe making something else with the remainder of the yarn. I sort of had a disagreement with my double-pointed needles, and the project suddenly was a no-go. I'm half tempted to knit something of my own design after spending an infinity searching ravelry for any free jumper patterns, and searching books and leaflets to no avail. One of the problems with this is that i don't even get past the swatching stage: I cast on, knit half a row, get bored and knit more of my shawl! I think it's probably a project I need my full attention for as I'll need to do some serious maths and design work!

As promised I found the dates and address of the open day I'll be going to at the end of the month. As far as I'm aware, the day is hosted by with guests including The Natural Dye Studio and FiberSpates. (Please don't hold me responsible if you spend an entire day perusing their websites, unable to tear your eyes away from their AMAZING yarns!) The dates are the 27th and 28th of September 2008, the venue. near Chester, is:
The Croft Stables
Station Lane
Great Barrow

I also wanted to spend a minute telling you about the online discount yarn shop i use, AKA Diane's Knitting Yarns. I wanted to give them a mention because so far, I've only ever bought online yarn from them and I've never regretted it! I have usually received my yarn about 2-3 days after placing my order, which is usually about half the price of what i would pay anywhere else. The other nice thing is that they often have yarn oddments of discontinued yarns, which is great if you've run out of a certain type of yarn, or you only need one or two balls of something. They do cheap needles and buttons and other bits and peices and get new stock regularly, so it's worth keeping an eye on. I really suggest checking them out, afterall, the cheaper the yarn, the more you can buy, right?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Busy Week

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone who visited my blog last Monday, and it was lovely to read the comments that were left. I had such awful thoughts that nobody would read this and I would be blogging to myself! I hope everyone comes back to read this weeks episode and that I can keep you all entertained a bit longer. I’m really intending for this to be a weekly blog, and so I will try and post on a monday to keep it regular.
Over the past week, I’ve finished two items - the baby jacket I was struggling to sew up, and also a very cute heart-shaped key ring. I have to admit defeat on the sewing up front however, my mother kindly offered to do all my sewing for me, which was a great weight off my shoulders!

The jacket I knitted from James C. Brett “Baby Shimmer” (as I did with the rest of the set from this pattern) and although it’s turned out lovely I do think the yarn is maybe a little too rough (even after washing) for next-to-skin usage. Although I’ve knit with acrylic yarns before, this was by far the roughest and I don't think I’d knit this pattern with this yarn again, maybe saving it for household items such as hot-water bottle covers and tea cosies.
The pattern called for two borders (one with button holes) and a collar that were all knit from stitches picked up along the side of the two front sections, but I found it difficult to pick up enough stitches evenly without it looking a complete mess. So I cheated!
The two borders were simple enough; I just cast on the required stitches and knit an extra row which would be used for seaming. The collar required a bit more thinking. The pattern asked for 22 stitches to be picked up along the neck on one side, then the live stitches on the stitch holder were to be slipped onto the needle and then another 22 stitches picked up on the other side. What I ACTUALLY did was cast on and knit 22 stitches, then slip onto the same needle the live stitches from the stitch holder, then cast on the remaining 22 stitches and knit them onto the needle holding the rest of the stitches. I broke the yarn and used a knitted-in join to knit the pieces together on the next row. So what I had at the end of this was two flaps of collar with an extra row to seam to the respective sides, but no extra rows in the middle, so it all evened out in the end!

My other FO is intended as a birthday present for a friend. I found a pattern for little stuffed hearts at and I had some lovely pinky-purpley-blue eyelash yarn leftover from a project I finished many years ago. Unfortunately I’ve lost the ball bands for the yarn so I’ve no idea about its details. The heart was stuffed with leftover yarn ends from seaming my other projects, which makes an ideal stuffing for little objects such as this. When I (meaning my mother) sewed it up, the key ring chain was sewn into the seam to make it a little more secure. The whole thing must have taken me about an hour and a half, and it makes a lovely little present to give to someone without having to spend loads of money, which is great considering we’re all counting our pennies at the moment.
I started another part of the set that goes with the jacket; it’s a little hat with a pompom on top. I haven’t made pompoms since I was in Brownie Guides, (many years ago!) so it will be quite a re-adventure for me, after the yards and yards of 2x2 ribbing I feel like I’ve already completed! Just the mittens and bootees to go, although I think it’s very probable I’ll run out of yarn before I complete those. The yarn I bought must have different yardage per ball than the one that the pattern recommends because I definitely bought the recommended amount in grams, and there’s not that much variation in my tension. It’s just a shame really as the balls I bought were on sale for 89p per 100g and I doubt I’ll get more for that price if I go back!

In other news, there is a fibre event happening in Chester at the end of this month, and I shall be attending (although I've not a clue where it is!). I've already arranged for a babysitter for my horse and I fully intend on having a good day out wool shopping, and then possibly venturing into chester itself. From what I've been told, one of my favourite online yarn shops will have a stall there, and the whole event is apparently hosted by, although as hard as I look, i can't find anything about it on their website! I will post any other information as i find it incase it is of interest for anybody.

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Introduction, and my current Work-in-Progress

I've always been able to knit, and now i find myself knitting more and more. Popular knitting culture being what it is, the craft suddenly holds a lot more interest to me now than what it did when i learnt as a small child, knitting for my dolls whilst my nan knit my school cardigans. That was some 20 years ago, and now i have far more demands upon my time than simply sitting quietly and knitting all day. So I've learnt to knit around real life: whilst waiting for deliveries; during a quiet moment at work; whilst watching a movie or listening to a podcast. What makes this special is that i own a horse, so deliveries are of the hay and straw variety and I'm usually sat in my horse's stable while doing it, and that i also work with horses and children, so finding a quiet moment at work is like finding gold dust!

It's only recently I've dared to progress past knitting for the sake of holding needles, to knitting with a purpose. Don't get me wrong, I've not stuck to plain stitches or single colours, I've dabbled with all sorts of colour changing techniques. I've tried (with varying levels of success) lace patterns and lots of textures too. Trouble is that if I've no aim in mind, then I knit a few pattern repeats and then think to myself "oo look, how pretty it is", and then frog it and cast on something else. Apart from a scarf i made for my mother a few years ago (which she still wears!) my knitting skills haven't really been useful for much other than entertainment. But this has all changed. I made the fatal mistake of mentioning that i could knit to a number of friends and relatives and I now have a list of projects the length of my arm, only one of which I've actually started. It's a baby set from a pattern sheet by Sirdar (Snuggly Double knitting 3108) and it's simple enough to knit. I've substituted the recomended yarn for one by James C. Brett called "Baby Shimmer" in white, because I found enough balls heavily discounted in a basket in my Local Yarn shop (89p if anyone's counting) and that doesn't seem to have caused any variation in the pattern (so far) and although I have found the yarn to be quite rough on the hands (it's the little shimmer strands that do it!) I've had no other problems with the yarn at all. Knitting the patterm, again, is not a problem either. My real gripe is that I'm AWFUL at sewing. I mean, REALLY awful.
My mother seamed the blanket i knit first, and for good reason. I knit the middle bit, and during a conversation with her (whilst still knitting the border) tried to explain how to block a finished piece. Big mistake. I came home later that evening, after mucking out my pony and settling her to bed, to find that my dearest mother HAD WASHED THE MIDDLE SECTION AND IT HAD STRETCHED! I think i was near to tears, it took me a month to knit it and i had blisters from knitting at speed in any available spare moment. So I swore that she would sew it all together and if there was any problems AT ALL, then she would deal with it. And true to form, it came out wonderful. Judge for yourself.
Well, now I've finished knitting all the different sections of the jacket/cardigan thing and my mother has picked this moment to go on holiday (it's not all bad as she is bringing me back some pretty yarn!) and my sewing has all gone horribley wrong. I thought it might be easier to start with sewing one of the front sections to the back, but low and behold, I've sewn half of the arm hole up too. I've actually given up after this setback and I'm currently waiting for my mother to return so she can undo my silly mistakes and do it properly :(

This was only meant to be a short post as it's late and I'm tired, but it feels so good to rant, and for (hopefully) people to understand where I'm coming from!